39
39

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Salvator Rosa
A TRAVELLER DISCOVERS A MAN TIED TO A TREE 
Estimate
20,00030,000
JUMP TO LOT
39

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Salvator Rosa
A TRAVELLER DISCOVERS A MAN TIED TO A TREE 
Estimate
20,00030,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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London

Salvator Rosa
ARENELLA, NAPLES 1615 - 1673 ROME
A TRAVELLER DISCOVERS A MAN TIED TO A TREE 

Provenance

Paul Brandt, Amsterdam;
sale, Berlin, Bassenge, 27 May 2011, lot 6257,
Private Collection

Catalogue Note

As Michael Mahoney has previously confirmed, this must be an early drawing, particularly Riberesque and exceptional for being a fully realised composition from a period when most of Rosa’s surviving work is sketchy and fragmentary.  Bearing in mind the uncertain and dangerous society in which he lived and Rosa’s habit of wandering in the countryside around Naples to sketch with his companion artists, the subject is particularly poignant and could almost stand as a work of reportage or perhaps the depiction of a local proverb.  A man, simply dressed or robbed of outer garments, has been bound outstretched along the branches of a half dead tree.  His face is hidden so we cannot tell whether he is alive or dead.  The passer-by holds out an arm to point at the figure, a victim of banditry or punishment.  No other evidence is given to the nature of the event, the man hangs suspended in an otherwise unperturbed landscape, a sunlit plain with a town in the middle distance and hills in the distance.  The passer-by out walking with a stick appears simply to have chanced upon the macabre event.

The draughtsmanship in the present work is particularly elegant and the application of wash is delicate, conveying the dappled light on the tree trunk, while the absence of any shading on the trousers of the hanging figure adds starkness to the strange scene.  As Mahoney has remarked, the majority of Rosa’s surviving drawings of the 1630s and 40s are fragmentary sketches but the preoccupation during this period with pastoral scenes, figures in landscapes and especially with experimental drawings of trees is clear.  Mahoney identifies three groups of such works, amongst which the most comparable in handling are a fine, large study of A group of trees, in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam,1 a study of A man lying on his back on a rock in the centre foreground of a wooded landscape, in the British Museum2 and An angel gestures towards a cross on the left while four armoured men look on in wonder, formerly in the Kurt Meissner collection, Zurich,3 which Mahoney speculates could possibly have been offered to a patron in order that he might select a composition to be worked up into a painting.

1. M. Mahoney, The Drawings of Salvator Rosa, New York and London 1977, vol. I, p. 270, cat. no. 21.4, reproduced vol. II
2. Ibid., pp. 281-282
3. Ibid., pp. 275-276

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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